Every seasoned traveler has their list of special stuff that they always take along, stuff that over the years has proved its use again and again.Â Here’s my personal list of things that go in my bag whenever I start packing for a trip (besides the obvious ones of passport, clothes, money, and a copy of my e-ticket – but those are all subjects for another blog!)
1) A pen.Â Don’t laugh – you will need it before you even get off the airplane, to fill out all those forms for customs and immigration.Â It’s nice to not start off a trip trying to figure out how to say “May I borrow your pen?” in another language.
2) If you will be checking a bag,Â a Swiss Army knife.Â The kind that has a flathead screwdriver, a philips-head screwdriver, and a corkscrew.Â I once freed myself from a 3rd floor hotel room with a jammed lock, by taking the lock apart with my Swiss army knife.Â Then I celebrated by opening a bottle of wine with the same.Â I never leave this item behind.
3) an e-reader.Â This is a new one on my list, but it’s up there with the Swiss army knife.Â Truly a boon to the bookworm traveler.Â Just be sure to load it up before you depart the US – you can’t replenish from overseas due to licensing issues (well, you can by doing some elaborate shenanigans, but those are beyond the scope of this blog entry).
4) some kind of a compact water purifier.Â These have come a long ways, and there are some great options out there.Â REI has one that is built right into the lid of a water bottle.Â Amazon has an ultraviolet purifier that can do a whole quart in a matter of seconds.Â You will save a lot of money and waste by purifying your own water.
5) sunscreen.Â You think it’s expensive here?Â Try buying it overseas.Â Seriously, this is one thing that I strongly suggest you bring from home.
6) insect repellent.Â See above.Â If you can even find it, it will cost you a fortune overseas.Â Definitely bring it along.
7)Â One or two sarongs.Â These big, lightweight chunks of fabric are great.Â They can be a towel, a sheet,Â a beach mat, or something to wear. They take up almost no room, and dry fast.Â I learned their worth on my first trip, to Southeast Asia, and I have brought sarongs along on every trip ever since.
8) a map.Â Yes, I know it’s low-tech to use a paper map, but it doesn’t require recharging, and you can look at it in the street without it being a scene.Â And it’s nice to have a map that is large enough to see things in relation to each other, rather than just little pieces at a time.
9)Â socks.Â Even if you are going to the Sahara desert, take a pair of socks in your carryon bag.Â They are the best way to get warm for the smallest amount of space, and flights and long-distance buses are notoriously cold.Â It’s great to have a pair of socks to pop on, to keep your toes toasty.
10).Â A notebook.Â Or a netbook.Â But some way to write down your thoughts, impressions, and ideas.Â Travel is a great time to think, and you don’t want to lose those flickers of insight.Â Â Â Now that wifi is widely available, and tiny laptops can be had for a few hundred dollars, I am considering trading in my notebook for an electronic version.Â But I always have some way to write down what comes to me as I travel.
Got a favorite must-have item?Â Something you always take with you?Â Send it it, I love suggestions!